NASA downplays discovery of past life on Mars by Curiosity rover
NASA has played down talk of a major discovery by its Martian rover Curiosity after remarks by the mission chief raised hopes it may have unearthed evidence life once existed on the Red Planet.
In an interview with US broadcaster National Public Radio, aired on Tuesday, lead mission investigator John Grotzinger hinted at something major but said there would be no announcement for several weeks.
"We're getting data from SAM. This data is gonna be one for the history books. It's looking really good," he said.
But a spokesman for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managing the project, has downplayed any major finding.
"John was delighted about the quality and range of information coming in from SAM during the day a reporter happened to be sitting in John's office last week. He has been similarly delighted by results at other points during the mission so far," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted spokesman Guy Webster as saying.
"The scientists want to gain confidence in the findings before taking them outside of the science team. As for history books, the whole mission is for the history books," Webster stated.